This month, people all across America will be raiding their garages and basements, pulling out stuffed turkeys and cranberry molds, trying valiantly to unwind string lights, and straining to remember which box the good pumpkin pie recipe is in. The air will smell of apple pie, pine trees, and of course Pumpkin Spice Lattes. And if you listen very carefully, you might just hear the first few distant notes of Jingle Bells rolling over the hilltops like Frosty the Snowman steadily barreling toward your town.
It’s November. Which is to say it’s almost December. But first things first — there are turkeys to be stuffed, sweet potatoes to be mashed, and pies to be baked. But there’s more to this time of year than simply an incredible meal and waiting with bated breath for the Christmas season to begin. No matter what the rest of the year is like, November ushers in a much needed but oft-overlooked tradition: celebrating.
In terms of financial planning, there is a too-popular trend of only celebrating the big accomplishments: paying off a big debt such as a house or school loan, topping off the savings for our children’s education, putting enough in the bank to retire on, and so on. And while these milestones are certainly cause for a well-deserved celebration or purchase, we may become prone to only celebrating when we feel we have accomplished something significant. This, of course, can lead to a feeling of discouragement if there has been a long stretch without something we deem significant happening. More on this in a second.
Whether you have an abundance of capital, or just enough, the truth is that a system of celebrating can be incredibly helpful. Below are three thoughts on why and how celebration can impact your long-term financial health.
“You, wherever you are in your financial journey, mountaintops, or valley bellow, we’re glad you’re here. “
1) Celebrate What You Practice and Practice What You Celebrate: The legendary business author Tom Peters wrote that we should, “Celebrate what you want to see more of.” If what we want to see is more intention, planning, and saving — then we should be celebrating those things much more often than once a year or once every milestone. Whether you’re putting five dollars or five thousand dollars in the bank each month, reward that good habit with some kind of positive action. Remember, a celebration just needs to be consistent. And that doesn’t mean it needs to be elaborate in order to be effective. On that note…
2) This Is About the Long Game: When we talk about efficacy, much like dieting and exercise, financial planning takes time to unfold and yield results. Without some much-needed encouragement along the way, we are far more prone to give up on our goals. The reason? Doing something that’s hard is, well, hard. As we mentioned above, when too long has elapsed without some kind of celebration, we begin to feel like we are failing. This can happen even when we are actually in the midst of a healthy and successful run of choices. The antidote? You guessed it — celebration. Celebration encourages us to keep going, that we are on the right path, and that there is more to come. Moreover, as we know so well, we are more likely to continue doing something if we are constantly and positively reinforced in some way. So, for the sake of your long-term financial plans, celebrate more often. And in case all that wasn’t enough…
3) What Do I Get Back: This wouldn’t be an article about financial planning if we didn’t talk for a second about return on investment — so what you’re probably wondering is: what do I get back from this regular practice of celebration? Other than the longer-term success of your financial goals and a healthy habit? Well, studies have shown that those who look for things worth celebrating in their lives have a higher degree of gratitude than those who don’t celebrate as often. And gratitude, it turns out, is like a nutrient-dense shake for your brain. Financial health, after all, matters little if it doesn’t in some way contribute to our physical and mental health too. So, if the common practice of celebrating more often means you’ll get some added mental health benefits to your financial success, then we say a hearty go for it!
Still curious about how you might incorporate more celebration in your financial life? We’d love to talk with you about the ways to do that, and many other things that lead to a more rewarding overall life. In the meantime, hang those lights, have another slice of pie, and breathe deeply all of that Pumpkin Spiced air. You earned it